Short summary - The Raven or Il corvo - Carlo Gozzi

Italy literature summaries - 2023

Short summary - The Raven or Il corvo
Carlo Gozzi

In the harbor, which is not far from the capital city of Frattombrosa, a galley, fairly battered by the storm, under the command of the valiant Venetian Pantalone, enters. On it, Prince Gennaro is carrying the bride to his brother, King Millon. But against her will, Armilla, the daughter of the King of Damascus, ended up here: Gennaro, disguised as a merchant, lured her to the galley by deception, promising to show all sorts of overseas curiosities.

Until now, Armilla considered her captor a vile pirate, but now Gennaro can tell her a story that justifies his act and chills the soul.

Previously, King Millon was cheerful and cheerful, but his main pastime was hunting. Once he shot a black Raven, he fell on a marble tomb, staining it with blood. At the same moment, the Ogre, to whom the Raven was dedicated, appeared before Millon, and cursed the killer with a terrible curse: if Millon does not find a beauty who would be white like marble, scarlet, like raven's blood, and black, like the wing of a dead bird, he is waiting for terrible death from anguish and torment. From that day on, the king began to wither before his eyes, and Gennaro, driven by brotherly love and compassion, went in search. After a long wandering, he finally found her, Armilla.

Touched by the story, the princess forgives the kidnapper. She is ready to become Millon's wife, but she only fears the revenge of her father, the all-powerful sorcerer Norando. And not in vain.

While Gennaro is talking with the princess, Pantalone is buying from some hunter a horse and a falcon so beautiful that the prince immediately destines them as a gift for his brother.

When Gennaro retires to the tent to rest from the morning worries, two Doves settle over his head, and from their conversation the prince learns something terrible: the falcon, falling into the hands of Millon, will peck out his eyes, the horse, as soon as the king jumps into the saddle, will kill the rider, and if he after all, he will take Armilla as his wife, on the first night a dragon will appear in the royal chambers and devour the unfortunate spouse; Gennaro, if he does not hand over the promise to Millon or reveal the secret known to him, is destined to turn into a marble statue.

Gennaro jumps up from the bed in horror, and immediately Norando comes out of the depths of the sea to him. The sorcerer confirms what the Doves have said: one of the brothers - either the king or the prince - will pay with his life for the kidnapping of Armilla. The ill-fated Gennaro, in disarray, cannot find a place for himself until a seemingly saving thought comes to his head.

Having learned about the arrival of his brother, the king with the whole court hurries to the harbor. He is struck by the radiant beauty of Armilla, and, lo and behold! there is no trace of serious illnesses. Armilla likes the beauty and courtesy of Millon, so that she is quite willing to become his wife.

Gennaro works hard not to let slip about the hellish revenge of Norando, but when it comes to the wedding, he asks Millon to wait, but, alas, he cannot clearly explain what caused such a strange request. My brother doesn't like it very much.

The time is coming to give the king a horse and a falcon, at the sight of which he, like a passionate hunter, experiences genuine delight. But as soon as the bird is in the hands of Millon, Gennaro decapitates it with a knife blow. When a horse is brought up to the astonished monarch, the prince cuts off the front legs of a noble animal with the same lightning speed with a sword. Gennaro tries to justify both wild acts with a momentary blind impulse. Millon comes up with another explanation - the insane blind passion of his brother for Armilla.

The king is saddened and alarmed that his dear brother is burning with love for the future queen. He shares his sadness with Armilla, and she quite sincerely tries to whitewash Gennaro, claims that the prince's conscience and feelings are pure, but, unfortunately, she cannot back up her words with anything. Then Millon asks Armilla, for the sake of their common peace, to talk with Gennaro, as if in private, while he himself hides behind the curtain.

Armilla directly asks the prince what makes him insist on delaying the wedding. But he does not give an answer and only begs the princess not to become Millon's wife. The brother's behavior reinforces the king's suspicion; to all the assurances of Gennaro in the purity of his thoughts, Millon remains deaf.

Not seeing Gennaro among those present at the wedding ceremony in the temple, Millon decides that his brother is preparing a rebellion and orders him to be arrested. The royal servants look everywhere for the prince, but they do not find him. Gennaro understands that it is not in his power to prevent the marriage, however, he believes, one can still try to save his brother for the last time and stay alive at the same time.

Millon before the altar calls Armilla his wife. Both young people and guests leave the temple not joyful, but, on the contrary, frightened and saddened, for the ceremony was accompanied by all the bad omens that one can imagine.

At night, Gennaro, sword in hand, makes his way through the underground passage to the king's bridal chamber and stands guard, determined to save his brother from a terrible death in the dragon's mouth. The monster does not make you wait, and the prince enters into a mortal battle with him. But, alas! From feet to tail, the dragon is covered with diamond and porphyry scales, against which the sword is powerless.

The prince puts all his strength into the last desperate blow. The monster vanishes into thin air, and Gennaro's sword cuts through the door behind which the young are sleeping. Millon appears on the threshold and brings down terrible accusations on his brother, the same has nothing to justify, since the dragon has caught a cold. But even here, out of fear of turning into stone, Gennaro does not dare to reveal to his brother the secret of Norando's curse.

Gennaro is imprisoned, and some time later he learns that the royal council has sentenced him to death and that the corresponding decree, signed by his own brother, is already ready. Faithful to Pantalone, Gennaro offers to flee. The prince rejects his help and asks only to persuade the king to come to him in prison at all costs.

Millon, who by no means doomed his brother to death with a light heart, descends to him in the dungeon. Gennaro again tries to convince the king of his innocence, but he does not want to listen. Then the prince decides that he will not live in this world anyway, and tells Millon about the terrible curse of the sorcerer.

Barely uttering the last words, Gennaro turns into a statue. Millon, in complete desperation, orders to transfer the miraculous statue to the royal chambers. He wants to end his life, bursting into tears at the feet of the one who so recently was his beloved brother.

The royal palace is now the darkest and saddest place in the world. Servants, to whom life here does not promise more former pleasures and profits, run like rats from a ship, hoping to find a more cheerful place.

Millon weeps at the feet of the petrified Gennaro, cursing himself for his suspicion and cruelty, and more than that, cursing the ruthless Norando. But then, having heard the groans and curses of the king, the sorcerer appears to him and says that it is not he, Norando, who is merciless, but the fate that ordained the murder of the Raven and the curse of the Ogre, the abduction of Armilla and revenge for him. Norando himself is only an instrument of fate, not powerful to interfere with its destiny.

Being unable to change anything, Norando nevertheless reveals to Millon the only terrible way to revive Gennaro: in order for the statue to become a man again, Armilla must die from a dagger. With these words, the sorcerer plunges the dagger at the feet of the statue and disappears. Millon tells Armilla that there is a way to revive Gennaro; Yielding to her persistent requests, he finally tells which one it is. As soon as the king leaves the hall with the statue, Armilla grabs a dagger and pierces her chest with it.

As soon as the first drops of her blood are shed on the statue, it comes to life and leaves the pedestal. Gennaro is alive, but the beautiful Armilla is dying. Millon, in desperation, tries to stab himself with the same dagger, and only with great difficulty does his brother hold him back.

Suddenly, the eyes of the inconsolable brothers, as always from nowhere, is Norando. This time, he brings joyful news: with the death of Armilla, who atoned for the murder of Raven, the terrible and mysterious circle of fate ended. Now he, Norando, is no longer a blind tool and can use his powerful spells at will. First of all, he, of course, resurrects his daughter.

One can imagine what joy seized everyone here: Gennaro, Millon and Armilla embraced and burst into tears of happiness. And the matter ended, as usual, with a cheerful and noisy wedding.